from Wally Mack, May 31, 2023
Here's a nice chart of planet earth's ionosphere and its layers. In short, the ionosphere varies, depending on the sun's radiation. Amateur radio operators depend on the F layer (primarily) to reflect HF signals from one station to another. Signals zigzag from earth to the F layer to other land areas or oceans, along their way to other continents. Meanwhile, at times during the day, the D layer absorbs lower frequency signals (such as AM broadcast band signals) during the daytime hours. There are lots of variables and solar phenomena at work, such that entire books have been written about propagation. Finally, VHF and UHF signals are more inclined to go right through the ionosphere, making communication with satellites, the International Space Station, etc. possible.
Radio Antenna Fundamentals
from Myron Calhoun, WØPBV, May 24, 2023
Myron recommended Part 1 of this video, posted in 1947. YouTube video
Glen Rubash MAARS Ham of the Year Award
from Suzanne Asbury, WØMMA, May 17, 2023
Related to this award, created in honor of the late Glen Rubash. KCØGPV, is a document (PDF) that outlines the considerations and procedures for nomination for the award established by MAARS. The document includes a brief form, and calls for inclusion of an open-ended statement in support of the nominee.
ARRL Field Day 2023
from Jason Johnson, KBØEOD, April 16, 2023
Here's a link to a PDF of this year's ARRL Field Day Rules, revised last month. June 24-25 is the big weekend. Also, here's a link to the ARRL Field Day web page.
Glen Rubash, KCØGPV, Silent Key
by Mike Asbury, W9MPA, February 21, 2023
I am sure that by now everyone knows that Glen suffered a massive heart attack last Monday, and passed away Thursday night. After talking to the family, I didn't want to post anything until the obituary had been published.
There will be a memorial service for Glen on Saturday the 4th of March, 9:30 - 11:30, at the Geary County Senior Citizens Center, 1025 S. Spring Valley Road in Junction City.
There will be a small family burial the next day, on the hill above Glen's house.
Here is the link to his obituary. Finally, here is a PDF of the thank you card sent to MAARS by Glen's family.
Taste of IWR - Beta Testing
by Kurt Zoglmann, ADØWE, November 2022
Some of you might be interested in beta testing the Taste of IWR (Instant Word Recognition) Course that I created! Feel free to download it and provide critical feedback. You can download the course here. The file is 863 MB. There are 106 lessons in total.
This course focuses on teaching students how to recognize 25 words at 40 words per minute (aka Instant Word Recognition). Don't let the speed intimidate you! Even if you haven't mastered Morse Code or ICR (Instant Character Recognition), you can master the sound pattern of words. It is easier to learn the sound pattern of code, characters or words, when they are within a second or less. Learning handfuls of words will accelerate your learning of Morse code as a language.
For each word introduced, there are four practice sets of increasing difficulty:
• Introduce New Word
• Single Word Repeated 3x
• Single Word
• Two Words
You only need to listen long enough to get a gist of the new word in the Introduce New Word audio file. Feel free to return to it, if you need a refresher on that word. The Single Word Repeated 3x will play each word randomly three times before speaking the answer. The single word will play each word once before speaking the answer. The Two Words audio file will give you two random words in a row with a second of space between them. (The new word is randomly selected 40% of the time to help you focus and learn it.)
Once you have made it through the 100 lessons and learned the sound pattern of the 25 words, it is time to put your IWR skills together to copy sentences! Lessons 101 through 106 will walk you from copying at 8x Word Spacing to a standard 40 wpm! At 8x spacing, we start with a spacing slightly larger than what you were working with in the Two Words practice set. Then we step down to 6x, 4x, 3x, 2x, and finally to standard word spacing.
If your audio player does not resume where you left off, jump to a random spot in that audio file. You will want to avoid inadvertently memorizing the sequence in that file.
Make the practice active and speak your answer out loud. Also, try and make a guess on the word, even if you aren't sure. The attempt and instant feedback will increase your learning efficiency.
You may find a strong tendency to want to focus on the characters. Just relax and try and let go. (I know it can be easier said than done.) This tendency may be especially strong in those with a firm grasp of ICR (Instant Character Recognition). It may be helpful to engage in a lightly distracting activity, such as petting your dog or cat or perhaps watching an easy-going YouTube video with the sound off. This problem is analogous to the challenge of learning ICR after first learning to count dits and dahs. It may also take several attempts over a few days to get some initial success. Longer practice sessions are not necessarily better.
The basis for the course:
Below are 25 common words that can be learned at 40 wpm. Why 40wpm? This is fast enough for beginners not to recognize characters and fast enough that even the longest word can be learned as a sound pattern. (ABOUT takes 1.17 seconds to send at 40wpm, while WOULD takes 1.08 seconds to send.) 40wpm is also a middle-of-the-road speed. IWR is easiest between 35 to 50wpm for most people. Beyond 50wpm and the sound pattern tends to sound muddled because Morse code loses its signature tone and takes on more of a pulsating sound.
This course is designed so that students learn to distinguish between two initial words based on their sound patterns. Once you reach 75% correct, move to the next lesson, which adds a new word. Each new lesson adds an additional word, and that new word has a 40% probability of being randomly selected. By moving from lesson to lesson, you expand your vocabulary of word sound patterns.
A Learning Approach to Achieve QRQ
by Kurt Zoglmann, ADØWE, March 2022
Kurt says, "I am pleased to introduce our white paper titled A Learning Approach to Achieve QRQ. We have developed a learning approach to achieve QRQ using a structured high-speed curriculum! In the paper, we propose a method to increase your CW receiving skills from 30 to 45 wpm. It is self-paced, and should take about a year to complete. To our knowledge, this is the first-ever such course. You can read it in the attached PDF, or on the Morse Code Ninja website – A Learning Approach to Achieve QRQ
In Morse code, speed is arbitrary, and a mutual agreement between operators. Sending fast or slow is a choice. Some radio enthusiasts enjoy communicating using CW at high speeds, often defined as QRQ for shorthand. (Formally, QRQ is a Q-signal defined as 'Send Faster.' When sent following a question mark, it means 'shall I send faster?')
High-Speed CW is relative. What is fast to one operator may be slow to another. One benchmark is the CW Operators Club, which requires its members to send and receive CW at no less than 25 wpm.
There is a form of Radio Sport known as HST (High-Speed Telegraphy). And every two years a bi-annual international HST competition is sponsored by the IARU. This competition is most popular in Eastern Europe. The competitors are divided into age and gender groups, and they compete in both receiving and sending CW." PDF link: A Learning Approach to Achieve QRQ
Demystifying Morse Code
featuring Kurt Zoglmann, ADØWE, February 2022
You'll see from several posts below that Kurt Zoglmann has put great energy into teaching and promoting Morse Code, via his Morse Code Ninja site, etc. He has gotten a shout out in the ARRL's On the Air Magazine for Jan./Feb. 2022! Actually, the League set aside the entire issue for CW topics. Here's a link. You'll need to click to page 20 (at top center). Look for a bright red box.
How to Use EasyTerm and Sound Modem to Connect to Another Station
from Dave Mills, KDØAZG, November 5, 2021
This YouTube video is an introduction to packet radio. It was posted to the MAARS e-mail group.
Mike Asbury, W9MPA, commented, "Thanks Dave, that was very useful. I tried connecting direct to you but no joy. I can connect through the KØTNT digipeater, and can get an abbreviated Help menu and read the mail, but can't get them to download to my mailbox in EasyTerm.
Dave replied, "Hi, Mike. Thanks. If I'm not mistaken, you won't be able to download the email from the terminal to your system. You will only be able to read, delete and forward to another station on that same terminal, so if you have a message waiting for you on my TNC, you can forward it to another station on my TNC, so that they can read it on my TNC. If I'm not mistaken, you won't be able to download the message to your TNC directly. I could be wrong, but I believe that's correct. One thing that EasyTerm does have that I didn't talk about is the ability to send a text file from my station to your station. It would not be mail, but it would simply be a text file, and you can set your EasyTerm up to auto receive these files."
MAARS Repeater Is Down
from Dave Mills, KDØAZG, August 25, 2021
As of 8:00 P.M. tonight, it appears the Manhattan (MAARS) repeater is down. An alternative repeater in Manhattan proper would be the KSU VHF repeater at 145.410–. Another option is the St. Mary's repeater at 146.955, with or without an 88.5 tone. Without tone: local, with tone area wide: points east. We'll have to make an appointment with KSU to go check out the repeater issue. Of course the national call frequency, 146.520, is also an option.
from Jim Foster, KSØVO, July 2021
- Customization on most all items / They do callsigns right.
- Look for the club logo in the alphabetic list when customizing an item.
- Wide selection of ham/first responder gear: vests, polos w/mic tabs, visibility vests, hats...
- Reasonable costs / Discount-off list for club items if club logo is added, e.g., $19.95 → $16.95
- Service is faster than GTM!
Reviving Packet and Other Modes
from Bill Dickinson, WSØI, May 2021
Myself and others across the states are trying to revive packet HF/VHF and some of other older analog modes, AMTOR, Pactor 1*, and GTOR**.
All the TOR modes that use ARQ modes, must be hardware TNCs, or require a HDLC card in your computer system. However, all the TOR also support a 1 to many broadcast mode called FEC, and these are supported by soundcard/software.
So for those with soundcard/radio interfaces Signal Link, Navigator, Microham devices, the best Packet software modem is the UZ7HO. It is very robust, and utilizes the Kantronics tone pair 1600/1800 center frequency 1700, and you will need a terminal program for TX. RMS Simple Term works very well.
The UH7HO software modem puts the AGW Packet engine to shame both the free and Pro versions. The UZ7HO software can be found here.
Also, there are other folks starting off the grid, no internet linking Packet networks, which utilize kit form KISS TNCs, that can be used on Windows, Macs, Linux, and even Raspberry Pi's running the G8BPQ Port Linbpq software.
The TNC board they offer will not work on HF Packet, however. If you are interested in this area of operation, the TARPN Network can be found here.
I am running a dedicated 24/7 40 Meter HF Packet Network Node, running BPQ32 software with a Dual Port TNC in KISS mode HF Port 1/VHF APRS Port 2. I am running a BBS/Mail Server and also a Chat Room Server, as well as APRS Igate/Digi/WX.
The Chat room is interesting, as stations that connect to the Room can all talk to each other, or create sub-rooms.
The LinBPQ port that runs on a raspberry PI also supports all these features.
So, if you're tired of all the FT-xxxx Modes, dust off your old TNCs, or hook that Soundcard interface back up and have a real conversation again.
If you have any questions, drop me a note.
*Pactor 1 was an open source mode created by SCS. All other Pactor Modes 2,3,4 are proprietary to SCS, and require license upgrade fees.
**GTOR is a proprietary mode from Kantronics.
from Doug Miller, KFØDAT, April 2021
Several of the MAARS group attended an online Emergency Comms-themed event. Thanks, John, for setting up the Zoom meeting. For anyone who did not have the opportunity, the YouTube videos and the slides/presentation materials will be available at the links below.
Comm Academy Archives
Morse Code Ninja Sticker
from Kurt Zoglmann, ADØWE, January 2021
If you would like a Morse Code Ninja Sticker, please reply directly to me with your callsign (or your address, if it is different than the one listed on QRZ). I would be happy to send you one. The stickers are four by two inches. They are UV resistant and waterproof, so you can put them on your car window, or even just a laptop/computer.
I have been sending out many stickers to celebrate my Morse Code Ninja website – https://morsecode.ninja, which is a great resource to learn more about Morse code. I have a Morse Code course, 1,000s of hours of practice to help you improve proficiency up to 50 wpm (and select content up to 100 wpm), and a comprehensive list of related resources. (If you are accessing the website on a phone, click the hamburger-looking icon in the upper-right corner to access the other pages.)
I normally ask for an SASE or a $5 donation, but I'm happy to give back to our local amateur radio club. :) I wish you all the best on your Morse code journey!
Amateur Radio Bands
from Myron Calhoun, WØPBV, January 2021
Here is the latest (Jan. 2020) band chart, which is available to anyone from the ARRL. (PDF, 1.2 MB) Other versions of the chart are available here.
Morse Code Speed vs. Proficiency
from Kurt Zoglmann, ADØWE, December 2020
Kurt says, "I wrote this story for my Morse Code Ninja website's Advice page — https://morsecode.ninja/advice/index.html. I thought at least a few in the club would find it of interest, perhaps even inspiring. Have you ever wondered what is involved in copying Morse code at high speed?
The unconscious mind's lightning-fast ability to process information is the key to copying code faster. As a general principle, as the Morse code speed increases, a larger amount of the processing and interpretation must be done by the unconscious mind. And this is directly related to the four levels of Morse code proficiency.
Levels of Morse code proficiency:
1. Conscious decoding of Dits and Dahs
2. Instant Character Recognition
3. Instant Word Recognition
4. Focus on the Meaning"
webmaster's note: Kurt's extensive comments on CW proficiency went out to MAARS members. He has a page on learning to copy two and three words at a time. Finally, Kurt has a YouTube video, Morse Code Speed vs. Proficiency.
Lunch SSB Roundtable
from Bill Dickinson, WSØI, September 2020
We have several folks who get on 3.805 MHz almost every day, from around 11:30 to 12:30 or so. It started when COVID-19 hit in March, and I was working from home. It has continued since then, even after going back to work, as I also run 80 meter mobile in my truck. We talk about anything and everything: radios, weather, news, etc. We have also been getting some of the older hybrid gear on the back on the air. So, if you happen to find yourself wondering what to do around this time every day, jump on and jump in for a bit. Everyone is welcome.
Licensed Amateurs in Riley and Nearby Counties
from Myron Calhoun, WØPBV, July 2020
Myron has compiled text files of area amateurs, as listed in the FCC database. He has lists for Manhattan, and Clay, Geary, Marshall, Morris, Pottawatomie and Riley counties. Click here to access the files. Thanks to Myron for doing this!
Emergency Checklist (If You're Called Out)
from Myron Calhoun, WØPBV, July 2020
- 3-day supply of food and water ready to go
- vehicle's gas tank at least half full
- arrangements for care of your family if called out
- a supply of operating materials (message blanks, pencils, logs, scratch or memo paper, etc.)
- a battery-operated transistor broadcast-band radio, with spare batteries
- a gas-engine generator for emergency power at a moment's notice
- portable antenna plans and materials available
- a completely portable rig that can operate independently of your vehicle
- identification, both on your car and on your person
- informed on assembly points or frequencies, or other emergency plans in effect locally
|List of Emergency Supplies|
||can & bottle openers
||3 days' food, water
||12V, 120V soldering irons
||flashlight & lantern
||tools (all kinds)
||hand & laundry soap
||tow & jumper cables
||towels & washcloths
||mirror & shaving gear
|gas & oil
||battery BC radio
||pencils & erasers
||maps, esp. local
||traffic log forms
On All Bands
from Bill Dickinson, WSØI, July 2020
I am not affiliated with DX Engineering in any way, other than being a customer. They have a pretty good Ham Radio Blog and Information web site. It is vendor neutral. Give it a look. (On All Bands)
Noise and Interference Mitigation Techniques
by Bill Dickinson, WSØI, May 2020
Bill says, "I thought I would provide a bit of online Elmering. I believe all of us are using fairly recently designed equipment, and I thought I would share a few tips and tricks for HF and VHF/UHF phone operations."
- [RX] Use your IF shift and IF Width Filters to move an interfering signal out of your receiver's passband, and utilize your Low Cut/High Cut filters to narrow your IF passband.
- [RX] If your equipment had DSP Noise Reduction utilize it, and if it is adjustable, play with the levels controls too much and you will start hearing DSP artifacts and distortion, so you have to vary it with conditions.
- [RX] The Noise Blanker can be a blessing and also your worst enemy. If it is a fixed type, you are stuck with on or off. If it is the adjustable type, less is more, and again setting it too high will cause AGC pumping action, distortion, and well as generate spurs throughout your receiver.
- [RX] The AGC Control another blessing and your worst enemy. Many are fixed with your options being Fast, Medium, Slow, time constants or Auto. Swap back and forth and see how your receiver acts between Slow and Medium. Do not rely on Auto.
- [RX] RF Gain: They made this adjustable for a reason, and everybody runs that baby cranked all the way to the right, that's your starting point, but did you know if you back that off, and increase your AF gain level, you would be amazed at the weak signals that pop up out of the noise that were being blocked by the AGC circuit action when it was running full bore.
- [RX] If you have a newer DSP based transceiver, adjust your receiver bandwidth filters, 1.8K, 2.1K, 2.4K 2.6K, 2.8K, 3K and if it allows for filter shaping, choose hard or soft shoulders as conditions warrant. A 1.8k will not be pleasant to listen to for very long, but it can help. Try different widths. Some allow you to create your own. Most transceivers default to 2.4, 2.6 or 2.8K.
- [RX] For the older rigs that utilize Crystal filters, if your rig does not have them installed, as many do not as these were options, look on the swap pages. Some can be found for reasonable prices, and 3rd party aftermarket filters which btw are actually better than the manufacturers' filters, are still available for many of the older popular rigs.
- [TX] The Speech processor, and or Compressor, utilize these as conditions warrant. Again less is more, but what will do is increase your average talk power, as well as boost your transmitted audio.
- [TX] If your newer DSP rig supports adjustable Transmit bandwidths, adjust these as needed. Many default to 2.4K or 2.6K, with low cutoff usually defaulting to either 200 or 300 Hz, and the High cutoff at 2600 to 2900 Hz.
John T. Frye's Carl and Jerry (from Popular Electronics)
from Myron Calhoun, WØPBV, May 2020
You don't have to be old to enjoy John T. Frye's Carl and Jerry stories, published in Popular Electronics from 1954 thru 1964 (119 stories altogether!), but it might help! -) Visit www.copperwood.com/carlandjerry.htm for "the rest of the story" (kudos to Paul Harvey), and for 10 stories you can download as PDF files.
I am attaching the first one, just to whet the appetite of all you young whippersnappers who haven't heard of Carl and Jerry before.
Harvard University Study on Morse Code in 1943
from Kurt Zoglmann, ADØWE, May 2020
I had the day off, and spent the afternoon restoring a fascinating research paper on Morse Code from Harvard University, released in the Journal of Psychology in July 1943! (PDF attached)
The outbreak of World Word II created a massive demand for the United States to train men in the use of the International Morse Code, perhaps as many as 10,000 men per month! The problem was that 30 to 60% of men entering radiotelegraphy schools failed to become proficient operators. The author, Donald Taylor, carried out experiments to determine aptitude and ways to shorten the length of time necessary to train men to become proficient with Morse code. The results are fascinating! And some of it goes against commonly held beliefs in the amateur radio community, even today!
I hope some of you will enjoy it!
All About Spectrum Scopes
from Kevin Loughin, KB9RLW, April 2020
KAØJPM here. I happened across an outstanding 27-minute YouTube video... an explanation of spectrum scopes, waterfall displays, etc., such as you'd see on an ICOM IC-7300. KSUARC has this radio, and until watching this, I had very little understanding. I don't know if I've ever seen a better instruction video. (link)
Remotely Administered Amateur Radio Exams
The ARRL Letter, April 2020
Facing a growing demand for amateur radio exam sessions in a time of stay-at-home orders, sponsors of some Volunteer Examiner teams are developing systems to remotely proctor test sessions. "Many of our VEs and VE Teams have been working on remotely proctored exam session ideas, employing both video and in-person components -- following social distancing protocols," ARRL-VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, said. Some teams are using a combination of Zoom and fill-and-sign Adobe PDFs. (link)
Midwest Division Newsletter
from Myron Calhoun, WØPBV, April 2020
There is some really-good HAM-related reading in the April 2020 ARRL Midwest Division Newsletter. (previous newsletters: www.arrlmidwest.org)
Newsletter highlights this month are:
My B-29 Flight
Ye Olde Ham Quiz
New Ham Production
After-Action Report: 2020 Missouri State-Wide Tornado Drill
ARRL Membership Statistics Update
Midwest Division ARRL Hamfests & Conventions
State QSO Parties in the Midwest Division
Midwest Division Special Event Stations
Morse Code Ninja
from Kurt Zoglmann, ADØWE, April 2020
"My interview on the DitDit.fm podcast was released recently: Episode #29 – Morse Code Ninja. Feel free to check it out! Bruce (N9WKE) was a lot of fun to talk to! It was a joy talking to him about my love and passion for Morse Code. We also spoke about my Morse Code Ninja web site, and many other tips for learning Morse code."